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Vietnam – Sonam

A group of students on a nighttime scenic boat ride

Student: Sonam
Course: Bachelor of Information Technology
Program: SEBE IT Internship
International student grant recipient 

Sonam is an international student from Vietnam.

Tell us about your life abroad.

Da Nang, a city in Vietnam, is a kaleidoscope of vibrant and colourful wonders. Nestled between the azure blue sea and the verdant mountains, it’s a place where natural beauty meets cultural richness. The cityscape is a harmonious blend of modern architecture and traditional Vietnamese structures, creating a unique aesthetic that is both charming and dynamic.

When I arrived back to Australia the key differences I observed were diversity of the landscapes. From beautiful beaches to vast deserts and lush rainforests. The weather was a stark contrast to what I was used to in Da Nang, with tropical climates in the north and more temperate climates in the south.

A typical day for me started with a morning jog along the beach, followed by breakfast at a local café. Then, I would head off to university or work, where my day was filled with lectures, meetings, or projects. Lunch was usually a quick bite at a food court, or a packed lunch enjoyed in a nearby park. In the evenings, I loved exploring the city, attending local events, or simply relaxing at home.

On weekends, I enjoyed exploring local attractions, visiting markets, or taking trips to nearby towns or natural sites. Sometimes, I would participate in local sports or outdoor activities, while other times I preferred to relax at home or catch up with friends.

I went on several memorable trips, including visiting iconic landmarks, exploring national parks, and experiencing local festivals. I also took advantage of the opportunity to visit nearby countries for weekend getaways or short vacations.

One of the most memorable meals I had was a local delicacy Ban Mi I tried at a street food stall. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before and came with a unique cultural experience that made it even more special.

I made friends in many ways, such as through shared hobbies, work, or through local events and gatherings. We would explore the city together, try out new foods, attend local events, or simply hang out and enjoy each other’s company. These friendships made my time abroad even more enriching and enjoyable.

Tell us about the program you undertook.

I carefully researched various study abroad programs, considering factors such as the academic offerings, the location, and the cultural experiences. I chose the program in Da Nang, Vietnam because it offered a unique blend of educational and cultural experiences that aligned with my academic and personal interests.

While I expected to encounter cultural differences, the extent of the differences was more than I anticipated. The local customs, traditions, and lifestyle were quite different from what I was used to, but this provided a rich learning experience. One of the biggest challenges was overcoming the language barrier. While I had studied Vietnamese before my trip, practical application was a different ball game. However, this challenge significantly improved my language skills and cultural understanding.

My advice would be to keep an open mind and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Research about the country and its culture beforehand, but also be ready to learn and adapt on the go.

The one big thing I will always remember is the warmth and hospitality of the people I met. The biggest lesson I learnt was the value of experiencing and understanding diverse cultures firsthand.

I financed my trip through a combination of savings, scholarships, and part-time work. The total cost of the trip was significant, including tuition, accommodation, travel, and living expenses, but the experience was worth every penny.

The trip added immense value to my studies. Not only did I gain academic credit for the courses I took, but the practical experience and cultural exposure greatly enhanced my understanding of my field. Additionally, the experience increased my employability by providing me with a global perspective and demonstrating my adaptability and resilience.

Why did you choose to travel further as an international student?

As an international student, my primary motivation to travel further was the desire to broaden my horizons and gain a global perspective. I was eager to immerse myself in new cultures, learn new languages, and meet people from diverse backgrounds. I believed that these experiences would enrich my personal growth and enhance my academic learning.

My advice to any international student considering studying abroad would be to embrace the opportunity wholeheartedly. It’s a unique experience that offers not just academic growth but also personal development. Be open-minded, adaptable, and ready to step out of your comfort zone. Also, make sure to research and plan well in advance to ensure a smooth transition.

Receiving a grant significantly eased the financial burden of studying abroad. It helped cover a substantial part of my tuition fees, accommodation costs, and living expenses. This financial support allowed me to focus more on my studies and the enriching cultural experiences, rather than worrying about finances. It also opened up opportunities for further travel and exploration that might not have been possible otherwise.

Learn more our Global Experiential Learning (GEL) programs

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